The cardinal said the idea that “my body belongs to me” reflects an instrumentalization and materialization of the body, thus making it an object to manipulate.
He called this a “reification” of the body and said it has led to a decrease in births and an increase in abortions.
Life has become manufactured, leading it to no longer be viewed as a gift but as a product, valued in terms of its utility, he said. “Quality of life thus becomes a discriminating concept between lives worthy of being lived and lives unworthy of being lived.”
The manipulation of the body is also present in gender ideology and transhumanism, which “both start from the premise that there is no truth that can limit the implementation of their ideological postulates,” Ladaria said.
The cardinal highlighted that this “contraceptive anthropology” present in gender ideology again places freedom in opposition to nature.
“This exaltation of freedom without relation to truth makes both ideologies present desire and will as the ultimate guarantors of human decisions,” he said. “Therefore, the continuation of the phrase ‘my body belongs to me, I will do with it what I want’ is the expression of desire alone as the guarantor of moral decision. But it is precisely the human body itself that appears as an obstacle, as a limit to the realization of desire.”
Someone’s “personal identity is now based on his orientation, i.e., without connection to his own body and without relation to the body of the other, without relation to the opposite sex,” Ladaria continued. “It is an anthropology that has separated the vocation to love from the vocation to fecundity.”
Humanae Vitae, instead, “proposes an anthropology of the whole person, an anthropology capable of uniting freedom with nature,” he said.
“Man is truly himself, when body and soul form an intimate unity.”
Speakers at the Humanae Vitae congress included physicians, theologians, academics, and priests from around the world. Catholic couples also gave testimonies about the joys and challenges of married love and openness to life.
Among the presenters were U.S.-based moral theologian Pia de Solenni; the president of Culture of Life Africa, biologist Obianuju Ekeocha; and the president emeritus of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, John Haas.
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Haas is also an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL). Other ordinary and corresponding members of PAL who participated in the meeting were Jean-Marie Le Méné, president of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation; Mounir Farag, founder and president of the St. Joseph Institute for the Family, Bioethics, and Pro Vita; Elena Postigo Solana, director of the Institute of Bioethics at Francisco de Vitoria University of Madrid; and Pilar Vigil Portales, OB-GYN.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.